Psalm 72
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
It is written that Satan took our Lord "up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them" (Matthew 4:8); but they had no charm, for him. In this psalm we are, so to speak, taken up by the Spirit, and shown the kingdom of Messiah; and as its glory opens to our sight our hearts are thrilled with admiration and delight. With renewed ardour we cry, "Thy kingdom come." Consider some things testified here as to the glory of Christ's kingdom.

I. THE GREATNESS OF THE SOVEREIGN. David and Solomon were in some respects great kings; and their greatness, so far as it was real, arose from their feeling their dependence upon God, and that it was their first duty to rule themselves and their people according to God's Law. We know how in many things they offended. But here is a King spoken of whose greatness is of a nobler kind, and who comes short in nothing of God's glory. As respects his nature, his character, his relationships, he is supremely fitted to rule. In him "righteousness" and "judgment" are found as in God. The will of God, on the one hand, and the welfare of his people are his highest ends. "God is light;" and this King saith, "I am the Light of the world." "God is love;" and this King's advent was proclaimed by angels as the Saviour who should bring down love to men: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to the children of men."

II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. (Vers. 2-4.) David, in his last words, describes Messiah's manner of government (2 Samuel 23:1-4). It is characterized by justice; there is no respect of persons; friends are not unduly favored, nor enemies unfairly punished (Isaiah 11:4, 5); the condition and interests of all are considered, and the poor are specially regarded; but justice is blended with mercy. It is the glory of Christ's government that it provides for the return of the rebellious, and for the restoration of the fallen.

III. THE HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE. (Vers. 6, 7.) The laws of the kingdom are not only adapted to the nature and necessities of man, but designed for the welfare of those who obey them (Deuteronomy 32:47; Isaiah 48:18); they are not arbitrary, but. founded in truth; they are not alterable, but eternally fixed. Earthly governments so far regulate their laws according to circumstances, and there may be improvements made and reforms carried out from time to time for the greater advantage of the people; but the laws of this kingdom do not need improvement - they are perfect as God is perfect. We see the result in the character and privileges of the people (Isaiah 43:21; Matthew 5:1-10). They are enlightened, contented, law-abiding; they strive to mould their lives according to the will of their King, and in loyalty and devotion to him they find their highest honour and their highest happiness. In this kingdom alone can liberty, equality, and fraternity, in the truest sense, be enjoyed.

IV. THE FUTURE TRIUMPHS THAT MAY BE CONFIDENTLY EXPECTED. This kingdom is destined to grow from more to more; it has an unlimited power of expansiveness (vers. 8, 13); it is also marked by stability. Earthly kingdoms have their rise and fall; but this kingdom is unshakable and eternal. It begins on earth, but is carried up to heaven. Other kings may have successors, though often the direct succession fails; but this King has no successor, but will reign forever and ever. - W.F.

Most probably put into form by Solomon, even if David suggested the substance of it. It is the portrait of an ideal King, never yet realized completely by any earthly monarch, and finds its perfect fulfilment only in Christ and his kingdom. Solomon did not fulfil it. It shows the effects of the reign of a perfectly righteous King such as Christ.

I. HE PROCLAIMS AND ADMINISTERS ONLY RIGHTEOUS LAWS AND JUDGMENTS. (Vers. 1, 2.) In opposition to the injustice of the despot. but the true King has a passion for justice.

II. THE REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BRINGS IN THE REIGN OF PEACE. (Ver. 3.) "Mountains and hills are mentioned as being characteristic features of the country." Peace is always spoken of in the Scriptures as the fruit of righteousness - in public and in private.

III. IT UPHOLDS AND VINDICATES THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR AGAINST ALL OPPRESSION. (Ver. 4.) Those who are born to poverty are more or less regarded by an unrighteous government as having no rights. Christianity expresses the cause of the poor, and vindicates their rights against all injustice and selfishness.

IV. RIGHTEOUS RULE TEACHES THE PEOPLE THE FEAR OF GOD. (Ver. 5.) Corrupt government encourages licentiousness and irreligion among the people.

V. RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT QUICKENS AND FERTILIZES ALL THE AFFAIRS OF A NATION. (Ver. 6.) As rain quickens and fertilizes the dry earth.

VI. GOOD MEN PROSPER AND HAVE PEACE UNDER RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT. (Ver. 7.) But are mostly persecuted and despoiled of their liberty and rights under a tyrannical rule. It is the office of a righteous king to defend the righteous; but it is Christ's work to make men righteous by fashioning their minds anew by his Holy Spirit. - S.

If it may be said of the twenty-second psalm that it lets us see Christ on the cross, it may be said of this that it shows us Christ on the throne. Instead of humiliation, there is exaltation; instead of the mockery of "the purple robe," there is the homage of angels; instead of the wicked cries of envious priests and a deluded people, "Crucify him!" there is the joyful song of the redeemed, "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" The saints on earth, as well as the saints in heaven, are partakers of this joy; they know whom they have believed, and they have had experience of his benign and righteous rule. We learn here -

I. THAT WHERE CHRIST REIGNS THERE IS LIFE. He is the Source and the Giver of life. Where the waters that Ezekiel saw came, there was life; and so where the gospel of Christ comes, there is life. The mind that before was dark has the life of truth; the conscience that before was dormant has the life of righteousness; the heart that before was dead in sins is quickened to the new life of love and holiness. Christ's rule ever tends to the well being of his people.

II. THAT WHERE THERE IS LIFE THERE WILL BE PRAYER. The first sign of infant life is breathing; and the first sign of the soul's life is the breathing of prayer to God. The life within expresses itself in accordance with its nature and needs. The mind that has light cries for more light; the conscience, awakened to a sense of sin, seeks deliverance; the heart that has been touched with the love of God yearns for more love and nearer fellowship. So it was with Paul. "Behold, he prayeth!" and so onward, through all the toils and struggles of his noble life, he continued instant in prayer.

III. THAT WHERE THERE IS PRAYER THE SUPREME DESIRE WILL BE THE GLORY OF CHRIST. Self will be lost in love. Concern about ourselves will be merged in concern for the glory of Christ our Lord. "Prayer shall be made for him."

1. For his cause. What interests him will interest us; what lies nearest his heart will be nearest ours. There is unity of life.

2. For his people. He identifies himself with them. He regards what is done to them as done to himself. When "prayer was made of the Church" for Peter, they were, in a sense, making prayer for Christ. Our sympathies should be as broad as the sympathies of Christ.

3. For his second coming. His first coming was the hope of Israel; his second coming is the hope of the Church of the gospel (Revelation 22:20; Titus 2:13). "Prayer for Christ" increases our love to him, binds us in closer union with the brethren, and enables us to transmit the blessed hope to future generations. Think of the prayers made every Lord's day! What cause for thankfulness and joy! Yea, "daily" prayer shall be made till prayer is consummated in praise. - W.F.

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